The UK technology sector is facing a widespread talent shortage, with two-thirds of businesses battling a digital skills deficit, according to figures from September 2023. This is reflected in a data centre skills gap which is threatening technological progress and affecting the ability of organisations to upskill, reskill and redeploy employees in the areas where they are needed most. The roles that are facing these challenges extend beyond just tech and into electrical design, mechanical design, engineering and elsewhere. What are the key causes behind this shortfall, and how can the industry tackle the problem?

Causes of skill shortages in the data centre industry

There are several reasons for the data centre skills shortage. A shallow talent pool of up-and-coming talent is failing to replace retirees and fill career opportunities made available by the development of new technologies and solutions. 

Young people today are learning the skills to succeed in the digital world, but many are unaware of how to apply them to the myriad of potential roles available in the data centre sector. Data centre operators and the wider digital infrastructure industry may fail to forge relationships with schools and universities to raise awareness of the opportunities.

With the data centre industry encompassing roles in networking, engineering, electrics, project managing and many more, current employees may not be privy to the roles and career opportunities they can move into. Transferrable skills picked up from other industries, such as IT capabilities including hardware setup and network troubleshooting, alongside soft skills including such as handling pressure and problem solving, could also be applied to data centre roles.

Recent Telehouse research found that more than half (51%) of IT decision makers believe there’s a lack of interest in the digital infrastructure sector as a career. One reason could stem from lack of diversity and inclusion within IT teams, with 63% of respondents highlighting it as a concerning issue.

How to combat the data centre skill gap

Building a pipeline of new talent

So how do we solve the skills shortage in data centre construction and other departments? The data centre industry needs to set aside time and resources to inspire the next generation of diverse talent to join the sector and bridge the data centre skills gap. This should include visits to schools and universities to raise awareness of the career opportunities, but also the creation of entry points for skills development, including graduate entry schemes, apprenticeships and training schemes to create a thriving job market

Utilising existing staff

The ideal candidate for a new position could already be working for the organisation, and leaders may find that the answer to solving the skills shortage in data centre construction actually lies from within. A mission critical data centre environment requires many different skills to ensure it is successfully maintained, and with effective training strategies, current employees can be upskilled to work in other departments, such as the services management team or security.

Applying skills from other industries

What many people may not be aware of is the ability to apply skills from other industries to the data centre sector. Armed services personnel can apply their existing skill sets to mechanical engineering, and maintenance professionals that fix data centre equipment may have previously been personnel that looked after engines and other high-value apparatus.

Retaining the top professionals

Keeping the best in the business is critical to ensure the data centre skills shortage doesn’t worsen. Data centre operators and the wider industry needs to build an organisational culture that encourages employees to stay. This might include implementations such as a positive performance management system, a supportive and engaging management style, mechanisms to enable greater employee involvement and a behavioural competency framework to help encourage teamwork and behaviours that reflect the values of the organisation.


Looking to find out more information about addressing the data centre skills gap? Download Chapter 4 – Ensuring the right skills and people exist in your digital infrastructure – of our new Vision 2030 report, or get in touch with our team.